How to Make a Half Mask


When thinking of a half-mask, characters like Zorro and other masked bandits often come to mind. They also have a long history in Commedia dell'Arte, an Italian theatrical form originating from the 15th century. Whether you're making a mask for a Commedia production or for your own Zorro costume, the steps are not too difficult, making this a great craft for children and adults alike.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper or bandages
  • White flour
  • Water
  • Place to mix the paste
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Drill (optional)
  • Paint
  • Embellishment (feathers, buttons, yarn)
  • Liquid latex (optional)

Making a Half-Mask

  • Mix water and white flour until it makes a paste. Your plaster should be a little bit thinner than glue and you can always add more flour or water to thicken or thin your mixture.

  • Cut cotton bandages or newspapers into strips, making a couple a little larger to form the base layer.

  • Have the person you are making the mask for lie down. Rub some petroleum jelly on her face. Make sure to apply it liberally as this will make it easier to remove the mask once it has dried.

  • Begin placing the strips on your friend's face. Make sure the first layer is smooth and that no skin shows through. Then add a second layer. Remember to only cover the top half of the face. If you want to make a Zorro-type mask, you can also only cover the area around the eyes. Remember, do not cover your friend's nostrils! They need to breathe while inside the mask.

  • Let it dry for about 15 minutes and then add a third layer. With this layer, you can start to shape the mask with a little more freedom. Make the eyebrows bigger or the nose stick out by stacking smaller bits of plaster in certain areas.

  • Wait until the mask dries. This should take approximately 30-40 minutes. Lift it off of your friend's face carefully and have her wash her face vigorously with soap and water.

  • Leave the mask to dry overnight.

  • Decorate the mask. You can use paint, feathers, string, yarn, pretty much anything you imagine!

  • Exaggerate features with liquid latex. This will allow you to create bigger cheeks or the hook nose on your Commedia character. Liquid latex can be purchased at any craft store or theatrical make-up store.

  • Set it to dry overnight. Drill holes on either side to attach elastic string or attach a stick to the side with some super glue so that the mask may be worn.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can make the mask without using another person, although it may be difficult to get the exact shape of the face. You can execute this simply by dipping the newspaper or bandages in the plaster and shaping it with your hands.

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  • Photo Credit By Harmony Regamey
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